Heller 1/72 F-84G Thunderjet
Heller 1/72 F-84G Thunderjet
The USAF's second successful full turbojet fighter was the F-84.Designed by Republic to offer an improvement over the F-80 shooting Star, itwas, like many early jets, plagued by inadequate power from its turbojet engine.It was an aircraft that was designed during WWII and as such, was not able totake advantage of aerodynamic information that was grabbed from the Germansafter the war. As a result, it was very much a 'normal' aircraft in appearancewith straight aerodynamic surfaces. The only clue that it was different was thenosegear and lack of propeller.
The major production of theThunderjet was in the F-84E and F-84G. The major differences between them werethat the F-84G had an uprated engine requiring extra intake door in thefuselage, it had in flight refueling capabilities, and it was capable ofcarrying nuclear weapons. The F-84E and G did not do well as fighters as wasshown during its clashes with the Mig-15 during the Korean war. Where itexcelled was as a fighter bomber, similar to what the previous generation P-47was so well known for. Until replaced by fighter bomber F-86s late in the war,the Thunderjet carried most of the air-ground jet attack duties.
Sosuccessful was the Thunderjet that it was operated by a large number of NATO andnon-NATO countries. The Nationalist Chinese even had a few that were successfulin shooting down ChiCom aircraft.
Heller was one of the premier model makers in the mid-1980s.Their kits still hold up quite well despite being of an earlier generation. Theyare very nicely detailed, albeit with raised panel lines. They boast fullcockpits as well as multi-piece canopies. Landing gear wells have plumbing inthem and it has a positionable speedbrake.
The dark greyplastic is relatively free from flash though this example had a few small bits.Mold separation marks were on some of the insides of gear doors and otherlocales, but not that difficult to remove from most of them. The clear bits werenice and crisp though a touch thick.
Decals for this kit were forjust one aircraft, and that of the Norwegian Air Force. They were alsovery matte and had yellowed, a problem with many Heller decals. It is best touse aftermarket decals for these older Heller kits. Instructions are adequategiving the usual drawings and exploded diagrams. All paint callouts are inHeller paints, though there is a translation included giving generic names.
Rather than give you a blow by blow, I'll just highlight a fewof the areas that need attention. Actually, that limits it to the nose section.I had a less than fun time getting nose weight into this thing. I also had tofiddle with the intake/nosewell section. A bit of trimming did allow it to fitmuch better.
I also don't know what to tell you about thespeedbrake well. It has no detail, but is a devil to fill as there is a nice bigseam running through it. Many Thunderjets could be seen with the brake hangingdown so it is up to you as to how you will deal with this. I just left myspeedbrake barely open! Wing to fuselage join was pretty good, though, like allmy kits, filler was needed.
The landing gear is very scale,which means that the nose gear is particularly petite. While it built well, ithas broken a number of times over the years. So have the main gear. While thereis a flat mating surface, these parts are basically butt joined.
PAINT & DECALS
This kit is the one and only time that I have covered anaircraft with Bare Metal Foil. I really wanted to try it. The results are notbad for a first attempt, but are EXTREMELY time consuming.
Firstthing I did was to paint all those areas not to be covered by BMF. This meantthe red nose and gear doors, the red tip tanks and the grey tail tip. The whiteon the tail is on the decals. The gear doors and bays were painted chromategreen. I know now that they should be chromate yellow, but this kit was built in1983; back when I was blithely ignorant of such nuances!!
I readin Fine Scale Modeler, that one was supposed to cut sections of BMF a bit largerthan the panel that was to be fitted. Then burnish it down and cut off theexcess with a sharp blade. The next piece was to be turned 90 degrees to thefirst to get panel differentiation. I did this as much as I could and theresults speak for themselves.
I had problems in areas thatare sharply curved. If you'll look at the opening image, you can see a fewwrinkles around the wing roots, a particularly troubling section. I used aQ-tip/cotton bud to smooth down the foil and in some places, the smooth handleof my Xacto knife. It was a lot of work, but the results are worth it.
Puttingon decals was no problem at all. I used a Microscale sheet for the 23rdFBW that had a very colorful tail in white and blue. The decals were appliedusing the Microscale decal system. No clear coat was added as it would havedulled the metal foil. The only thing I had to add was the canopy which Ipainted aluminum after several failed attempts to use the foil on it. This was one of the first times I had used BMF so I wasn't very proficient.
The Heller F-84G was and still is a very nice kit. While not asmodern as the Tamiya and Academy kits now available, it is a very good value forthe money, especially as it is less than half the price of the more modern kits!Looking at the photos, you can see thatthe BMF has held up quite well over the last 15 or so years. It is easy to seethat the glue holds well and that it a finish that will probably last as long asthe kit is around!
Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet!
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